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Saturday, January 23, 2021

University announces money saving measures

The University of Newcastle has announced how it will achieve financial sustainability amidst the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pro Vice-Chancellor Alex Zelinsky updated staff about the measures today as the University is forecasting a $58 million reduction in revenue for 2020.

He had also previously advised his staff that the institution needs to find $35 million in savings next year.

“We know that we need to achieve savings and my goal is to do so in a way that aligns to our strategic plan and protects as many jobs as possible,” Professor Zelinsky said.

To make up these savings the university is planning to consolidate five faculties into three.

The current faculties expected to change are the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment; the Faculty of Education and Arts; the Faculty of Business and Law; the Faculty of Science; and the Faculty of Health and Medicine.

The naming and new make-up of the three groups will be determined in the coming months, with the change due to be completed by the end of the year.

This measure is aimed at reducing administrative costs.

Professor Zelinsky also updated staff on the course optimisation program to reduce complexity and overlaps in courses.

This program will see the university offer fewer, better-resourced courses and programs that offer more student-focused education.

The organisation is also continuing negotiations with unions and has reached in principle, agreement on measures to reduce annual leave, long service leave and to offer an early retirement scheme.

These measures include a requirement for staff to take ten additional days of their annual leave in 2021.

The early retirement scheme is proposed as an option for staff 60 years of age and above and would include incentives to take up the scheme.

Negotiations continue regarding delaying staff salary increases that are due in September 2020 and September 2021 and delaying salary increments that happen on the anniversary dates of commencement.

“Our negotiations with Unions must conclude by 10 August and I’m committed to providing an update to staff by that date,” Professor Zelinsky said.

“We continue to see strong interest in our courses for Semester 2 and we know people are looking to our University to help them retrain and reskill and help our regions recover from the impact COVID-19 is having.

“We’re absolutely committed to providing an outstanding student experience and are excited about having students back for Semester 2 from next week.”

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